Emerging Artist 2-24 Award

The SCAF Emerging Artist Award has been created to acknowledge up and coming artists of all ages who are living in the Yorkshire region. The intent of the award is to bring recognition and awareness to outstanding visual artists in the region who are at the early stages of their career and who have not yet established a reputation as an artist amongst art curators, buyers and critics.

/ This years subject:


Art is the story of perception. Perception in art is deeply complex including the subjective response of the viewer, the intention of the artist and external influences such as social pressure that seeks to persuade us to interpret something in a certain way.

Perception in art is also deeply intwined with psychology. Our brains are hard wired to see structure, logic and patterns to help us to make sense of the world we live in. Survival often requires rapid interpretation of our surroundings and to that end our brains have evolved to continually make shortcuts to speed up the process of visual perception. These shortcuts are often exploited in art and design.


Becky Long-Smith

Becky works as an artist, visual story-teller and educator. Her multi-disciplinary practice most often involves print and collage. In 2022 Becky returned to education to study an MA in Creative Practice, which significantly changed the focus and direction of her work. She explores the themes of ritual, play, wonder, perceptions of reality and imagined narratives through her practice. The starting point for much of her work is natural phenomena and the complex human relationship with nature. Becky believes in making art accessible and relatable. One of the reasons she integrates techniques such as embroidery, where the care and time taken are self-evident, is to provide audiences with an immediate understanding of process. She also describes this process as a personal ritual.

Gareth Bell

Gareth Bell is a self-taught portrait artist originally from Merseyside, but now based in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. His practice focusses on uncovering the stories and emotions that lie beneath the surface of his sitters, inviting the viewer to challenge their perceptions and possible misconceptions of the subject.

Imo Dunkley

Imo is an artist based in Leeds, working in a studio at Assembly House in Armley. Her work celebrates nightlife spaces in Leeds, emphasising the vital part they play in facilitating identity formation, creativity and community building. She aims to capture the freedom you feel from a great night out, paying homage to those spaces, and the world created within those walls.

Louise Ventris

Louise is a painter based in Holmfirth West Yorkshire. She graduated in Fine Art from the University of the West of England in the late 1980s. Louise worked as an Art teacher in a secondary school before moving into a career in digital design. As a working parent, pursuing painting has often been a juggling act alongside other commitments of work, family and running a household. As her family has grown-up Louise has found more opportunity to paint. The idea of time scarcity is a common theme in Louise’s work and a reflection of her own lived experiences.  Louise often paints urban cityscapes and moments in gridlock, inspired from the commute to work or on the school run.

Mia Mai Symonds

Mia Mai Symonds (b.1997, Leeds) is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily across weaving, sculpture and installation. Through a critically, socially and materially engaged approach to research of woven textiles, Mia is dedicated to uncovering this everyday materials' emotional potency, values, political ecologies, and capacity to trace human experiences across time and place. With intersectional feminist theory at the heart of her artistic practice, Mia is interested in working between lived experience and embodied knowledge, often engaging in topics of memory, sensory experiences, archived information, knowledge exchange, identity and social injustices.


“Why are we conscious?” Through a mix of abstract sculpture, painting and meticulous research, I try and describe the most abstract of concepts. My delve into what makes us human at the most fundamental levels, has been incredibly enlightening for me. I aim to push this way of thinking on the world as way of bringing us all together. We are all essentially the same, a chance array of billions of identical particles fused in an eternal cycle of energy. Out of their 13 billion years of existence, your particles happened to choose this infinitesimally small portion of time to form and entangle, enabling you to be here now. If that isn’t a cause for peace and celebration, nothing is. I try to allude to this point in every aspect of my work.

Vanessa Oo

Vanessa creates small 'families' of screen prints by placing together abstract drawn elements in different combinations. The compositions are instinctive: she is interested in the tensions and relationships created by the interactions. They capture the unique energy of each moment. The original designs are done by hand so it is a very ‘undigital’ process. Latterly she is exploring using the work to explore her identity, particularly as a non-white Northerner. What does a viewer’s interpretation of the abstract piece say about them and the artist Vanessa has established a regular practice in screen printing since 2018, currently based at Leeds Print Workshop. She is a member of York Printmakers and has exhibited and sold work in London, Yorkshire and the North East.

Zoe Maxwell

Zoe is a painter completing her final year of a Fine Art BA at Leeds Arts University. Her work questions the reliability of memory and photography, extending the scene captured by the camera whilst introducing new traces of narratives and inaccuracies. Zoe was first introduced to the fallibility of memory after a family member suffered a brain tumour, damaging their ability to recall memories with the same accuracy. Zoe is interested in false recollection, constructing a confabulation on canvas. She has developed a process from photograph to painting that recontextualises the image, mimicking the process memory undergoes during retrieval. Much like memory, her paintings shift clarity, sitting between the real and imagined navigating a past and present plain.

Zoe Phillips

Zoe has a degree in Technical Arts Interpretation and for years has grappled with where she’s perceived to sit creatively. During her recent Masters, Zoe explored her relationship with objects, trusting the process and reconnecting with making.
Throughout her career, as a prop maker, she has always made objects to communicate others stories. These last 2 years, she has embraced her ‘Jill of all trades’ identity and used objects to challenge perceptions. Her work uses objects as conduits to ask questions about disability and accessibility. She’s interested in discussions about how and why we wear the lenses we do. How society frames disability and how a lens shift might change the way we view the concept of ‘broken?’ and ‘useless?’.

/ Key Dates


1st October 2023 
Open of submissions

5 Jan

5th January 2024 11.59pm 
Close of submissions

6 Jan

6th Jan - 30th Jan 2024
Judge of submissions

1 Feb

1st February 2024
Finalists notified

1 Jun

1st June 2024
Final artwork submissions delivered to SCAF

28 Jun

28th June 2024
Final artwork hung in gallery.


4 Jul

4th July 2024
Final judging and presentation evening

/ Judging Panel

Dr Sue Armstrong
Dr Sue Armstrong

Artistic Director & Trustee of SCAF

Sue Armstrong is the Founder of the Scott Creative Arts Foundation and the current Artistic Director. Sue was a close friend of Michael and Eileen Scott and is dedicated to realising their wishes through the work of the Foundation. Providing support and encouragement to emerging artists was a major priority for the Scott’s and to be holding the fourth SCAF emerging artist award is a testament to her commitment to SCAF. Sue, like the Scotts is a passionate believer in the value of the synergistic relationship between arts and science.

Photo by Damian Bramley - DJB Photography

Robbie Fife

Robbie Fife (b.1988 Harrogate, UK) lives and works in North Yorkshire. Fife completed an MFA in Painting at The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London (2014) and has twice been an artist-in-residence at The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation – Connecticut, USA (Nov/Dec 2015) and Carraig-na-gcat, Ireland (Sept 2019).

Selected recent exhibitions include Native, Willoughby Gerrish, Thirsk Hall Sculpture Garden, Thirsk (solo) (2023); Locals, Willoughby Gerrish, Jermyn Street, London (solo) (2022); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2022); Kist, Oliver Projects at 155a Gallery, London (solo) (2021); Without You My Life Would Be Boring, Staffordshire Street Studios, London (2020); Used For Glue, Studio 2, Staffordshire Street Studios, London (2019); Odds, The Other MA (TOMA) at Royals Shopping Centre, Southend (2019); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019); 9 Artists: Thin House, London (2018); Nightswimming, LLE at Mission Gallery, Swansea, Wales (2018); Sightseers, g39, Cardiff, Wales (2018); ODDS, Studio 7, Assembly Point, London (2017); Outhouse, May Project, London (solo) (2016); Robbie Fife, Paulina Michnowska, Jacopo Natoli, News of the World, Deptford, London (2015).

Jess Kidd

Multidisciplinary Artist and SCAF EAA 2023 Winner

Jess Kidd is a Yorkshire Based multidisciplinary artist, with a current focus on mixedmedia painting. She graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2008, however, her practice has re-emerged recently, after serious illness in her mid-20s. Jess is inspired by art that provokes people to reconsider the familiar. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) informs both her creative process and her subject matter. She aims to challenge people's thoughts towards where we live, encouraging celebration and appreciation. She loves to experiment, play with and manipulate materials, and is driven by a passionate intention to convey her interpretations of reality. Alongside winning the SCAF Emerging Artist Award 2023, Jess was also awarded the Joan Day Bursary by South Square Centre, Thornton, resulting in her first solo exhibition. She has exhibited both individually and in group shows and runs occasional workshops.

Eloise Ross

Art & Design Project Officer at York & Scarborough Teaching Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust and Freelance Photographer

Elly enjoys working on collaborative and community-based arts events/social projects and regularly sees how the power of art can enhance people's experiences. Her role within the hospitals involves engaging patients, visitors, and staff in a creative way to help improve their stay, visit and place of work through exhibitions, music, participation and enhancements of the hospital environment. The aim of these varied artistic practices is to provide opportunities for people to feel included, connected and inspired via an ongoing programme of artistic exhibitions and events at the different Hospitals. In her freelance work Elly has worked for many different organisations in the Yorkshire region and she has acted as a judge for several photography groups and curated Arts projects. What she loves about the arts is how it engages interest; provides a positive experience; breaks down barriers and preconceptions; stimulate memories; promotes collaborations and provides respite or space for reflection.  She is excited to see what artistic talents can be discovered and shared to a wider audience in 2024 by the SCAF Emerging Artist Award.